Library Index » Science Encyclopedia » Introduction to Space Exploration - Ancient Perspectives On Space, Enlightened Observations, Space Travel In Early Science Fiction, The Wright Stuff

Introduction to Space Exploration - Hard Work

moon missions choose lunar

The U.S. effort to put men on the Moon was named the Apollo program. It actually included three phases:

  • Mercury—Suborbital and orbital missions of short duration.
  • Gemini—Longer duration orbital missions including extravehicular activity (space walking) and docking of spacecraft in space.
  • Apollo—Manned lunar landings in which a module containing two astronauts softly lands on the Moon. A third astronaut remains in lunar orbit while the other two explore the Moon's surface.

Alan Shepard's historic flight of 1961 was considered the first Mercury mission. Over the next two years five more successful Mercury flights were conducted. In 1965 a series of ten manned Gemini missions began. They were completed near the end of 1966.

Soon after it started, it became apparent that the Moon program was going to be expensive. On September 12, 1962, President Kennedy reinforced his commitment to the project during a speech at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Kennedy said, "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."

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